Antetokounmpo’s Chases Season’s MVP, Fuels Milwaukee Bucks Playoff Hopes in 2019
No one is crushing 2019 quite like Milwaukee Bucks forward/guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. To be fair, the potential MVP has proven to be a dominating force dating back to early October and the beginning of the 2018-19 NBA campaign.
All is forgiven if Antetokounmpo failed to notice the calendar flip from December to January. He’s far more focused on driving the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks down the stretch and into the playoffs.
It’s the consistent, high-caliber play of Antetokounmpo that has kept the Bucks as favorites of NBA predictions throughout the season. And there’s certainly no indication Milwaukee’s train will slow down between now and the postseason.
Antetokounmpo’s impact on the court this year is best represented by the numbers. Through 23 February, The Greek Freak is averaging 27.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. He’s also converting a respectable 58.1 percent from the field. His points, rebounds, and field goal average stats place Antetokounmpo in the top ten of each category.
His performance through the first half of February propelled the 2013 first-round draft pick to his third consecutive All-Star Game. He also picked up the distinction of team captain in the second year since the NBA moved to a draft style showcase of the league’s top talent.
In the 17 February game, Antetokounmpo’s namesake Team Giannis dropped a hard fought contest to Team LeBron 178-164. Team Giannis led through the first half before being outpowered by King James and company.
Antetokounmpo led All-Star scorers, turning in a 38-point night that included a highlight reel-worthy dunk off a soaring bounce feed from Steph Curry.
The performance drew rave reviews from Antetokounmpo’s peers, especially All-Star Game MVP Kevin Durant, fresh off his own 31-point showing.
“[Antetokounmpo]’s got potential through the roof. He’s still producing at an elite level, and it’s scary to see how far he can keep going,” said Durant.
An All-Star Game MVP is a nice feather in the cap. To be crowned the MVP of a season is on another level. Not surprisingly, Antetokounmpo is right in the mix for the NBA’s most prestigious award this season, even topping the list of some basketball analysts.
If, once the dust settles on the season, Antetokounmpo is called at the 2019 NBA Awards as MVP, he would become the first Bucks player to win the honor since 1973-74 when a certain GOAT contender by the name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar nabbed the first of his record six MVP titles.
Perhaps even more impressive is the field of MVP candidates Antetokounmpo would beat out. He’s competing neck and neck against previous winners James Harden of the Houston Rockets, three-point sharpshooter Curry of the Warriors, and perennial favorite James from the Lakers.
In addition to keeping pace with the NBA’s elite, the 24-year-old Antetokounmpo is stepping into a respected leadership role with the Bucks. The characteristically calm and quiet presence on the court leads by example whilst also piping-up in the locker room.
Teammate Matthew Dellavedova recently attested to Antetokounmpo’s growth, telling Fox Sports Wisconsin, “I think he’s really taken that next step. [He’s] continuing to grow in terms of encouraging people, getting on guys when they need to be spoken to, and just becoming a lot more vocal and a lot more confident.”
Thon Maker echoed the sentiment, saying, “You don’t see him talking much. You don’t see him as a vocal leader, but he is a vocal leader behind the scenes.”
The 2019 Bucks seem poised to travel as far as Antetokounmpo will take them. If his regular season performance, All-Star outing, and emerging leadership offer a glimpse into the future, there’s no one better to have in the driver’s seat.
Milwaukee hasn’t seen an NBA championship since 1971. For a hungry, deprived fanbase, it’s high time the Larry O’Brien trophy is hoisted in Cream City.